War on drugs

Missouri Is Fighting Alone Against Drug Monitoring (And Why The Entire USA Should Thank Them)

By Aaron Abel

Another legislative session has come to an end in Missouri and  liberty loving legislators stopped a bill creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) .

Proponents of the bill must have seen this coming, but the push for support next year began before this year’s session ended.

Shortly after the successful filibuster of the PDMP bill, led by state legislators comprising the Senate Conservative Caucus (coined Chaos Caucus by their critics), crusaders for the bill in the state legislature and elsewhere came back out of the gate with the same tired arguments of the past seven years, which have been met with increasing pushback from opposing legislators and the general public. This time they’ve added a fresh new twist — a news article from Kaiser Health News (KHN). They are now touting findings from a recent WalletHub study, to shame Missouri’s citizens into compliance.

This article claiming Missouri is third worst in the country for drug use based on the review has been making its rounds on social media and mainstream news outlets, and been shared and linked in reference to statements made by state politicians both local and federal. Titled “Why Missouri’s The Last Holdout On A Statewide Rx Monitoring Program”, it actually spends very little time talking about why and the rest of the time lambasting Missouri for not conforming with the rest of the United States.

So what could be so damning of Missouri in this study?  I decided to have a look….

The first point of interest is the methodology used for determining drug use by state… which was only half focused on drug use.  It also focused on law enforcement and drug abuse treatment. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the fields in law enforcement scoring was whether or not a state had a PDMP?  It seems a little self-serving to argue that a state needs a PDMP by referencing a study penalizing them just for not having one, wouldn’t you think?

Logic. It’s a thing.

The next item I noticed was their breakdown of Top & Worst 5 States in key categories, which include:

Highest % of drug users

Most opioid prescriptions

Most overdose deaths

Most drug arrests

Highest % of unmet drug treatment

Fewest substance abuse treatment facilities

Most people receiving treatment

Missouri didn’t hit the top 5 list in ANY of those categories.  Yet somehow, they’re supposed to be third worst in the nation?

It’s strange that someone from KHN would ignore a study released just earlier this year by their own organization, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), which focuses specifically on how states stack up regarding drug overdose deaths. Now THAT’S the kind of information that would be useful in determining the need for state programs, especially considering how PDMP is supposed to help prevent overdoses and deaths.

According to this study, most states, as well as the District of Columbia, have experienced an increase in opioid overdose deaths.  So PDMP really isn’t helping states in that area. It couldn’t have anything to do with PDMP forcing people to get the dangerous stuff from the streets, could it?

While WalletHub only focuses on opioids, KFF breaks down the overdose deaths from all drugs state by state.  The data collected tells a different story in the case of Missouri vs. The Other 49:

– Missouri ranks 22nd in opioid overdose deaths.  A far cry from 3rd worst.

– Missouri ranks 21st in all drug overdose deaths, so their opioid “crisis” doesn’t sound like much of one.

– Missouri ranks 34th in the increase of opioid overdose deaths, with only a 4% increase. Again, early everywhere increased at the same time, and Delaware was number one with a 64% increase. Way to go, PDMP….

– Missouri ranks 44th in the increase of all drug overdose deaths. They actually DECREASED by 1%. In fact, only 11 states overall had a 0% change or a decrease, suggesting it’s not PDMP doing anything at all.

Next the article accuses its opponents of conspiracy theory.

Why won’t Missouri establish a PDMP? Data-sharing.  

Missouri wants to keep all medical information of its citizens private, plus Missourians aren’t too keen on having their names put on lists. And with the latest calls for nationwide gun registry, nationwide red flag laws to confiscate guns, and state legislatures wanting to use law enforcement to judge a person’s state of mental health, can you blame them?

Bizarrely, the article also substantiates Missouri’s data-sharing “conspiracy theory” by stating, “data-sharing can occur only among states that have managed to bend or rewrite their regulations to accommodate the one state in the nation without a statewide program.”

You mean Missouri is actually doing all the citizens of America a favor by making it harder for every state to share their medical records nationwide?

As a Missourian, I think it sounds like a “Thank You” is in order.

So, you’re welcome.

And viva la Conservative Chaos Caucus!

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